Remarks by Anders Pedersen on "Tobacco Control Action In Jordan”

Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan, Mr Anders Pedersen, in a Panel Discussion on "Tobacco Control Action In Jordan”.

There should be no question about it: Tobacco is an economic burden to Jordan – as proven by the study.  And this is the same conclusion for all other studies done in other countries as well.

Several studies have also shown that “Tobacco use also impacts the poor more.” Based on a 2016 study, the average poorest adult male cigarette smoker with an income of 100 to 250 Jordanian dinars per month spends approximately 25 times more on  cigarettes than on health, approximately 10 times more on cigarettes than on education, approximately 2.5 times more on cigarettes than on housing, and approximately 1.5 times more on cigarettes than on food. Since the price of tobacco products affects the demand of male adults, tobacco control is also a key instrument towards poverty eradication.

With the Government’s priority on economic growth and attention to the health and well-being of its people, tobacco control is a ‘WIN-WIN” solution.

WHO FCTC measures/Global Best Practice on Tobacco control measures are the following:

Tobacco taxes- very powerful best practices:  A 10% increase in tobacco taxes decreases tobacco consumption by 4- 8%.  Some countries use a portion of tobacco taxes to fund health efforts.

In France, after tripling the price of cigarettes due to taxes, the consumption halved, the revenues of government from cigarettes doubled and lung cancer deaths of 35- 44 year old men dipped. (Examples are: France, New York, Philippine, Thailand, Turkey, UK, Vietnam).

Tobacco packaging that shows graphic health warnings or even plain “standardized” packaging are effective in communicating risks.  There have been strong attempts by the tobacco companies to sue governments claiming that this infringes on their trademark rights. 

In Australia, because of plain tobacco packaging, smoking rates fell especially among young people. (Examples: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Equador, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay).

Enforcement of smoke free laws/local ordinances or regulations have lowered smoke exposure to 90%. Popular public preference and high compliance is possible (Examples are Ireland, Turkey, New Zealand, Uruguay) 

As the study being launched today shows: Economic benefits of Tobacco control  (JOD 6.5 billion)  significantly outweigh the implementation cost (JOD 26.4 million).

  • Increasing taxes on cigarettes has the highest ROI (JOD 1,547:1)
  • Enacting more stringent bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship has an ROI of JOD423:1; graphic warning labels has an ROI of 324:1; implementing plain packaging of tobacco products has ROI of 164:1 and implementing a mass media campaign  has ROI of 130:1.
  • Enforcing bans on smoking in public places has ROI of JOD 180:1

The study also shows that enacting the WHO FCTC measures (the global best practices) as a complete policy package would lower the prevalence of smoking, will lead to substantial health gains. Enacting the entire tobacco control package would reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking by 57.4 percent over 15 years, saving 47,556 lives from 2019– 2033, or about 3,170 lives annually.

Tobacco control is consistent with Jordan’s commitment to the SDGs and Vision 2025

  • In 2015, world leaders have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and improve people health by 2030.
  • I am happy that Jordan has taken steps to realize their commitment to the SDGs by putting health, education, social protection, gender equality, job creation, and the rule of law, as their priorities in the coming years.
  • The focus of the national leadership to tobacco control impacts the economy, environment, and, people, especially the vulnerable groups and is therefore highly commendable.
  • I reassure of the UN system’s support to tobacco control efforts.
Speech by
Anders Pedersen
UN Resident Coordinator and
Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan
RC Pederson
UN entities involved in this initiative
World Health Organization